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“I will not forget this match,” said Halep, who wiped away tears afterward.

Each time it appeared Sharapova was ready to pull away, she was forced to do extra work.

At 4-3 in the second set, Sharapova held two break points, but Halep saved both with gutsy groundstrokes. In the tiebreaker, Sharapova got within two points of victory at 5-3, but Halep took the next four to claim the set.

That’s when Sharapova left for the locker room, taking an 8-minute break during which she changed out of her sweat-soaked outfit - and let Halep stew for a bit. Sharapova went ahead 4-2, but Halep broke back to 4-all.

It turned out that was her last stand, though. Sharapova wouldn’t lose another point, gritting her teeth and shaking her fists after breaking at love for 5-4 with a backhand winner, then holding at love by forcing a backhand error from Halep on match point.

When it ended, Sharapova dropped to her knees, caking her shins with clay, and folded her body forward, burying her face in her hands.

“I had good tactics today. I opened the angles. Also, I was hitting the ball strong,” Halep said.

But Sharapova, Halep continued, “was moving really well.”

Cow on ice?

More like Queen of Clay.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich